Blue chip appointments influence new strategy

Just this month, the UK’s no.1 craft beer brand welcomed former Ribena Marketing Director, Jon Evans as its new CMO. Aiming to make everyone “as passionate about beer as we are”, Jon will play a key role in setting strategy for the brand as it pushes forward with expansion and eschews its shock tactic marketing in favour of a more responsible message in 2019.

Putting the focus back on beer: The brand’s new strategy is likely the result of mixed response to several 2018 campaigns. Its tongue-in-cheek “Beer For Girls” International Women’s Day effort was panned by critics and consumers back in March, forcing MD James Watts to recently admit it had got PR launches wrong this year and would move away from tackling social issues to focus its irreverent marketing campaigns fully on product. Although the brand has indicated that at this stage it is not looking to review its agencies at present, new top-level strategy may trigger the need for a fresh agency perspective in the mid-term.

Having recently raised £10m from its fifth crowdfunding round in under 90 days, we expect BrewDog will look at further fundraising avenues in the coming 18 months to fuel aggressive global campaigns. 2018 saw the brand open nine new bars internationally, including its first in Seoul, South Korea. Asia and North America are expected to remain key growth markets: Its new US distribution centre allows it to reach 50% of the population, again foreshadowing deepened investment in the country.

Insights to support NPD innovation: As the brand ramps up production capacity to support global growth, it will continue to invest in NPD to align better with a millennial audience open to experimentation. It’s increasingly moving into new categories to achieve this - so agencies or consultancies that can offer insights on consumer behaviour in addition to how new products are being perceived will be of interest in the short term. This year the brand launched dedicated sour beer facility Overworks and recently announced its intention to enter the single-malt whisky market – which according to CEO has seen “no innovation or disruption for almost 200 years”. In addition, it continues to invest in menu innovation, including vegan products to tie into its core millennial audience’s eating habits. As its portfolio grows, so will the need for greater segmentation. Data specialists should monitor its efforts in terms of NPD and offer insight into potential segmentation strategies for more targeted marketing.

Digital specialists should note the appointment of Director of Digital Matt Garrood - who joined the company this June with an impressive CV of roles at major brands including Diageo and EE – as well as an agency-side stint as Account Director for WPP-owned HealthWallace. Utilising his blue chip expertise while retaining the brand’s unique culture and identity, he’ll likely play a major part in the UK arm’s plans to launch its first ever airport bar in Edinburgh Airport, as well as 2019’s hotly anticipated Craft Beer Hotel (based in Aberdeenshire). Matt has already overseen the launch of its new video-on-demand subscription service, which offers a mixture of original content and acquired shows for £3 per month.

Media Spend Q1-3 2018: £448,549

Agencies: Manifest, Isobel, It Works Media

Key decision-makers:

Director of Digital Matt Garrood - connect

VP Brand Strategy Sarah Warman - connect